Read an Excerpt
Princess, Why Are You Hiding?
Life is like a fairy tale!
Cinderella forgot that she was the rightful heir to her
father's fortune. Shamed into servanthood, she allowed
her inheritance to be squandered by unworthy benefactors.
Have you forfeited what your Father
in heaven has written in His will for you?
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, a beautiful daughter was born to the King of all kings, and the Lord of all lords. Her father loved her and attended to her needs as if she were his only child. His greatest hope was that she would grow to understand how very much he loved her.
The King was a good king and used his wealth to provide for all the people in his kingdom. He hoped that one day, his beautiful daughter would help him to demonstrate his love for his people.
This powerful king had an evil enemy who hated the king and all that was his. Those who encountered the King's enemy referred to him as the Evil One. The Evil One wanted to hurt the King, but knowing he was invincible, the Evil One tried to hurt the King's daughter instead. Disguised as a prince, the Evil One came to the daughter to court her and win her trust away from the King.
This Evil Prince used cunning flattery to draw her away from the protection of the King's castle by promising to give her all the things for which her father had asked her to wait. She followed the Evil Prince, and once he had her in his clutches, he robbed her of her most precious gift—her dignity.
The EvilPrince dressed her in rags, smeared her face with ashes, and stood her before his evil followers, who mocked her and called her names. Shamed before the contemptuous crowd, the beautiful princess retreated to the dungeon, where the Evil Prince had told her she belonged. She forgot the words of her father, and only remembered the humiliation of standing in public view and feeling naked and ashamed. She vowed to herself that if she ever went outside of her dungeon, she would disguise her true identity so the crowd would never mock her again.
From that day on, she covered her beautiful face whenever she ventured out of her secluded hiding place. The Evil Prince had convinced her that she was unworthy, unloved, and unwanted. He had separated her from her father and gloated in his apparent victory to hurt the King by making the princess ashamed of who she was. Her secret humiliation kept her imprisoned by the evil enemy who had tricked her with his lies.
Secrets Create Invisible Strongholds
Perhaps you know how the princess in this story feels. Perhaps her story sounds just like yours. I know it sounds like my story. The devil's only weapons against God's children are his lies, but he fires them against us with relentless force. If we know to hide behind God's shield of truth, we will not fall subject to these lies. But if we listen to the devil's lies, we will become afraid of God and want to hide from Him.
It is difficult to love God or anyone else when we are looking for a hiding place. Shameful secrets cause us to withdraw in fear that someone will bring our experience to the knowledge of others. Intimidation is a dark and dreary place in which to live. Even when light penetrates our room, we look for dark corners in which to retreat so we can keep our secrets from exposure.
Hiding feels comfortable at the time, but it is a lonely lifestyle to maintain. If secrets are allowed to run the course of their destruction, finding new ways to keep these secrets can become more sacred than our search for freedom from them. There is hope, however, for people who find a trustworthy friend to whom they can tell their secrets. Many people have found healing by revealing their secrets to a person who can demonstrate forgiveness to them. Secrets lose their power if there is no longer a reason to hide their truths. The right secret keeper can make the person feel acceptable again.
This need for the acceptance of others drives us to great measures because we tend to agree with the opinions that others have of us. If our peers want to imitate us, we are flattered. If they make fun of us, we are defeated. We must be careful whom we choose to be our secret keeper. If we tell our secret to the wrong person, they might use it against us and inflict more shame on us than we previously carried. But it is also true that if we share a secret with someone who accepts us for the new person in Christ that we are becoming, we find liberation from our guilt and enjoy new beginnings.
Love Covers a Multitude of Sins
I am careful with secrets that others give to me. It is my way of showing them that I accept them as they are. My confidence in them helps to relieve their sense of shame as they accept my love in spite of what has happened to them or what they have done. I am not concerned about the choices they made in their past, but in the choices they will make in the future. I have learned this art of secret keeping from God, who has been faithful to keep my own secrets, secrets that intimidated me and kept me from enjoying the new life He gave to me.
We have nearly 10,000 women enrolled in our Dallas church, The Potter's House. I see many who are reluctant to participate in the move of God because they have secrets that they feel are worse than those of any other woman. It is in my heart to reveal how the Lord has been my Secret Keeper in hopes that all women who read my story will also learn to trust their secrets to Him.
I know that secrets rob us of the freedom we have to enjoy our royal inheritance through Jesus Christ. I too have hidden behind appropriate smiles when inappropriate pain robbed me of my right to be content. I was afraid of my future because of my past until I met my Lord, my Secret Keeper. I am proof that the Lord can be trusted to keep secrets. Once I gave to Him the secrets that kept me from being totally His, I found that those same secrets were now totally His to keep. He removed the shame that I felt and covered me with His truth and love again. His love made me transparent, with nothing to hide.
I have found healing by writing letters to the Lord, my Secret Keeper. The act of explaining my fears and waiting on God to respond has taken me to a place of solitude with Him where He can speak to me and direct my thoughts to His Word. When I felt troubled about the loss of my brother, and a subsequent encounter I had with a young man that I dated shortly after my brother's death, I wrote the following letter to my Secret Keeper. I was honest before God and He was faithful to show me truths that set me free from the pain of those memories.
As I began to write this letter to Him, I remembered the passage of Scripture from Genesis 32:24:
So Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him till daybreak.
Jacob was afraid that his own brother, Esau, was going to kill him because he had tricked him out of his birthright. By going before God, Jacob laid his fears before his Lord and requested deliverance from the things that kept him from receiving God's promises. In answer to his prayers, an angel came and wrestled with Jacob until daybreak. Once Jacob realized that he was strong enough to wrestle all night with an angel, who in the end blessed him, he realized that it was foolish to fear his brother who was merely a man.
Through that midnight struggle, God put strength into Jacob that he could not have developed without that encounter. Even though Jacob left limping, he was no longer afraid of the challenges a new day brought to him. Like Jacob, when it was time for me to let God heal my infirmities, I laid my grief before God to see what His healing power could do.
I had wanted to hide when I was a teenager because of the shame I felt when a violent boyfriend had rejected me. His actions towards me made me feel unlovely, unwanted, and jilted. I hid this sense of rejection for many years, not realizing how much it affected me until I took time to be honest before God and admit my secret pain to Him.
You are not alone if you have sacred secrets
that shame you from participating in the great things God has planned for you, but it is time for you
to confess to God the truth of your secret so
that He can free you from your past.
I was free from the secret after writing a letter to my Lord. Once I told Him how I felt and saw how much He loved me, the event lost its power to hurt me. It even seems odd now that I ever felt it was a secret worth keeping. I wrote,
Dear Secret Keeper,
I think that being young and naïve often creates a canvas for You to show us how You paint Your master plan for our lives. All I can say is that I believed him. He had been so nice. He picked me up from school every day. Even the gifts he brought to me were such a surprise. What went wrong? At first I didn't notice his weaknesses, because he seemed to be such a strong man.
It was right after my brother had died. No, let me correct that statement. It was right after my brother was murdered. My whole world seemed to come to a screeching halt. How could his life be ended so abruptly, just when he was trying to get it all together? He had given his life to You. For the first time in his life, my brother seemed to have found true happiness—the kind of happiness that I knew (even then) only came from having You as the center of his life.
One evening he went out with his daughters to one of the local hangouts. The girls were raising money for a trip to an amusement park, and their daddy was taking them where all of his friends would be. Everybody liked my brother, I thought. But something went wrong. There was an argument. Then there were gunshots, and my brother tumbled to the bottom of the stairs.
His knees were drawn to his chest in the fetal position, but this was not his entrance into life. It was his tragic exit. When they took our mother to him, she went into shock. Her firstborn was gone, and she was left alone.
Oh, Secret Keeper, I was looking for my brother! I was looking for someone who enjoyed having fun like my brother. But instead, I found him. He liked to have fun, but sometimes he seemed so angry. I began to notice bouts of anger that soon became hostility toward me. The hostility turned into verbal outbursts that I could not believe my ears were hearing. As suddenly as it happened, he would return to being the person I had grown so fond of.
He visited every day. I even recognized the sound of his car when he drove up. But the visits became shorter; there was always something else he had to do. As the visits grew briefer, the atmosphere became more intense and often resulted in senseless arguments. I felt like something wasn't right. I could almost sense danger every time he came.
In my heart, I felt warned that the relationship was taking a turn for the worse. I heard his car, but he didn't stop one day. Then I heard his car as he passed without stopping a second day. When he finally decided to stop and come in, he accused me as if I had done something wrong. I was so amazed that I had sat there for several days waiting for someone who I thought really cared for me. The accusations turned into rage. The rage turned into threats of violence. What game was this we played?
My Secret Keeper stopped me from continuing by pouring into my soul the memory of His promise from Psalm 121:1-8. I looked up the scripture and read it to myself as though the Lord were speaking it directly to me. Such a paraphrase reads like this:
Dear Serita Ann,
You will lift up your eyes to the hills—where does your help come from? Your help comes from Me, the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
I will not let your foot slip—I who watch over you will not slumber; indeed, I who watch over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. I, the Lord, watch over you—I am your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.
I, the Lord, will keep you from all harm—I will watch over your life; I, the Lord, will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.
My Lord had wrestled with me just as He had done with Jacob. Though I had been weakened by the young man who pulled down my countenance, my Lord strengthened me with the memory that He was always there with me. I returned to my writing and finished telling my Lord the secret that had haunted me.
I don't know why I didn't heed the warning that You gave to me. I knew that things were about to come to a boil. Whenever I heard his car, I became nervous. It had been nearly a week. There had been neither phone calls nor visits. If history was to be repeated, I knew that when he did return he would be very hateful.
The day he finally came again, he left his opinion of me written on my heart. He destroyed my sense of value that day. He made me feel ashamed for being me. I relived the day in my letter to my Secret Keeper:
It sounds like the car has stopped. Why is he walking so fast? Oh please, no arguing again. "But I haven't been anywhere!" I remember saying.
It hurts when he shoves like this.
Why is he pushing me?
Is that a gun in his hand?
What is he doing?
I've never seen such a face; it's like looking at the devil himself. Is he going to kill me, Secret Keeper? He's got his gun to my head, and I'm lying on the floor. God, help me!!!
This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.
The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
I looked up and he was gone. I crawled to the window and peeked under the shade. He stood there beneath the full moon, cocked the gun and fired it into the air five times. I sat on the floor trembling; tears would not come. Everything that I thought he was had turned to lies. When I met him, I felt so lonely. When he drove off, again I felt left alone.
But then I realized that I had not been left alone. I had called out to You, and You had sent an angel to rescue me from death! I'm never alone because I always have You, Secret Keeper.
In this last event, I was merely the victim, but I felt exposed. Over a course of time I began to believe that I must have deserved this treatment. I believed the lie and was tormented by his opinion of me. He had stripped me of my sense of self-worth and had robbed me of my dignity. But now, after laying my secret before the Lord, after wrestling with the truth that God was there protecting me and saving me from further harm, I am no longer ashamed. I no longer limp from the wounds the enemy of God inflicted upon me. I no longer believe that lie...and I am free to love again.
The Lord is the best Secret Keeper of all. I confessed my secret shame to Him: I had fallen for the wrong person. I had ignored His warnings, but He took my honesty and my fears and cleansed me, sending my secret away as though it had never happened. What is this power He offers?
What is this power that comes from Jesus' death and makes us live? He paid a price in that death for every secret that we hide so that we can stand justified before God. Evangelists explain "justified" as, "Just as if I'd never done it—just as if it had never happened to me."
Why keep our secrets to ourselves instead of giving them to the Lord, our Secret Keeper and trusted friend? With Jesus we can come out of hiding.
What Secrets Are You Hiding?
What secrets are keeping you from enjoying new opportunities that lie ahead? You are not alone if you have sacred secrets that shame you from participating in the great things God has planned for you, but it is time for you to confess to God the truth of your secret so that He can free you from your past. It is time for you to enjoy your inheritance, which is to be purified from all unrighteousness.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
1 John 1:9
For us, "purify" means "to make pure again." God offers more than forgiveness to us. He offers the power to make us free from what Webster's New World Dictionary defines as "adulterating matter." When lies and mistakes enter our otherwise pure lives, we become a mixture of good and evil, we are adulterated by the adding of the bad to the good that God made in the beginning. Reversing this, God takes our secrets and restores our innocence, freeing us from the evil of sin and its corrupting elements. Through our confession, we allow God to cleanse us from anything that is not right in our lives.
There is no secret that can separate you from God's love.
There is no secret that can separate you from His blessings.
There is no secret that is worth keeping from His grace.
God has already provided deliverance for all that you have done and all that has been done to you. He has demonstrated His love from the beginning of time, and He continues faithfully to reach out to you even this very second in time as you read this book.
Confess your secrets to the Lord, your Secret Keeper. Let Him make right the things in your life that cause you to retreat. You are no longer a lady-in-waiting or a lady-in-hiding. You are a princess!
Write Your Own Story
Before we continue, I would like to make a suggestion. Writing out your feelings will help you to see what the Lord already knows about you. So why not write a letter to the Lord, your Secret Keeper, in your journal. Each time you write, tell Him what secret makes you want to hide.
When you finish each letter, ask Him what He thinks about your secret. Then listen to His still, small voice within your heart and record His response in your journal.
But as many as received him, to them gave he
power to become the sons [daughters] of God,
even to them that believe on his name.
John 1:12 KJV
The Princess Within: Restoring the Soul of a Woman by Serita Ann Jakes
Copyright © 1999, 2002 Serita Ann Jakes
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.